(AFP/Getty Images)

On Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will formally request an extension to form his coalition from Israeli President Shimon Peres. What’s not a question is whether Peres will grant him the extension, Peres has already said he will, the real question is whether Netanyahu will try to form a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox parties or without them. From JTA:

Netanyahu’s Likud party said earlier this week that it was nearing an agreement with the right-wing Jewish Home party. Naftali Bennett, who heads Jewish Home, and Yair Lapid, chief of the centrist Yesh Atid party, have agreed to either enter the government or remain in the opposition together. Both parties have set as a priority passing legislation to require haredi Orthodox yeshiva students to serve in the military.

Observers say it is likely that Netanyahu will eschew the haredi Orthodox parties in order to sign coalition agreements with Jewish Home and Yesh Atid.

The haredi Orthodox Shas party said Thursday that it will not join the Netanyahu government in the future if it is not included from the start of the new government.

Meanwhile, the Times of Israel is reporting that Netanyahu is still seeking a coalition that includes the ultra-Orthodox parties.

“Netanyahu does not intend to form a narrow government with [Naftali] Bennett and [Yair] Lapid,” said Shimron prior to a meeting with Yesh Atid party officials. “We are continuing our efforts to form a broad coalition which would include the ultra-Orthodox parties, the Jewish Home party, and we hope it would include the Yesh Atid party and Kadima as well.”

Shimron went on to explain Netanyahu’s position, stating that “the challenges facing the State of Israel are enormous ones, external challenges as well as social challenges internally. We need the entire Israeli public represented in the government. It is impossible to deal with these challenges correctly without working towards forming a broad-based government.”

In other words, it seems Bibi wants a big coalition to form without him caving on forced conscription of the ultra-Orthodox into the army. Or maybe that’s not what it means. It’s difficult to tell anymore.

Netanyahu sets meeting to request extension in forming government
‘Netanyahu still seeking coalition with ultra-Orthodox’ [Times of Israel]